Chip Ganassi Racing has filed a lawsuit against Alex Palou, the latest bombshell in its ongoing contract dispute with the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion.
The filing, which was first reported by the Indianapolis Star, was processed Monday afternoon in Marion County Superior Court, according to documents posted on the commercial court’s website. The defendants listed in the civil case are Palou and ALPA Racing in Barcelona, Spain. Both have been issued summons, according to Ganassi’s legal team.
Palou’s services have been claimed by two racing teams for 2023. Ganassi released a statement July 12 that a contract option had been exercised to keep Palou for the 2023 season. In a series of tweets hours later, Palou denied that he would return to Ganassi next season.
McLaren Racing then announced Palou would join its organization next season.
In its court filing, Chip Ganassi Racing has asked the court to seal its motion for preliminary injunction because it “contains confidential business information including, but not limited to, sensitive information that concerns — and is deemed confidential by — the parties’ contractual agreements.”
The team also submitted seven exhibits of evidence in support of its case, four of which were sealed. Three were unsealed: Palou’s tweet thread disputing Ganassi’s announced extension; McLaren Racing’s tweet confirming his signing; and the McLaren Racing release on Palou’s addision.
In the filing, Ganassi also asked for expedited discovery to prepare for a hearing requested before the end of August. The IndyCar season ends with the Sept. 11 race at Laguna Seca Raceway.
In a statement on its court filing, Chip Ganassi Racing said, “Alex Palou is under contract with Chip Ganassi Racing through the end of the 2023 season. He is a valued member of our team, and we will continue to support him in chasing wins, podiums, and INDYCAR championships. As the result of a competing racing team improperly attempting to contract with him notwithstanding the clear terms of our contract, we are proceeding to legal process pursuant to the contract.
“Any and all inquiries on the matter will be handled by our legal counsel.”
Though highly unusual for a racing team to initiate legal proceedings against its driver, the lawsuit was expected. Arrow McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist, whose 2023 racing fate depends on what happens with Palou, predicted after his third-place finish at Toronto that the dispute would be settled in court, and that he believed Palou would be sidelined for 2023 as a result.
Palou has made three starts since the dispute went public, finishing sixth at Toronto and then sixth and 13th at Iowa Speedway last weekend.
The first Spanish champion in IndyCar history also revealed at Iowa that he no longer has remote access to Ganassi’s engineering and setup data.
“I don’t have the access I had before to the data and all that stuff from home,” Palou said. “When I’m here, I have it. Not from home like the same I had before. Which I understand. It’s normal. I think I’d do the same if it was my team. It changed, but I understand it. It’s not that I’m out of meetings and stuff like that.”